Improve your photography
By Francis Caldwell
Now that digital photography is here, with the instant gratification of seeing your image on the screen, instructions about the craft aren’t necessary. Just point and shoot. Right?
Wrong! The laws of photography, or the limitations of a glass (or plastic) lens, laws dating to the mid-18th. century, still apply.
Camera manufacturers have cleverly dodged many common problems, especially depth-of-field, by creatively using the wide-angle lens.
The ability to look at your images on the camera’s screen, then delete the undesirable ones, has lulled many shooters into thinking all they need to do is fire away.
Despite all the advantages of digital cameras, many shooters are disappointed by the images they take.
Maybe this will help. Motion can, and frequently does, occur on both ends. The subject may move, the photographer may move. The result is a blurred photo.
You can eliminate this problem by either using a camera support, a tripod, tree limb, car window sill (with engine shut off)or other steady support.
It also helps if you program a high ISO in your camera’s menu screen. An ISO of 400 will not effect the quality of your photos, but will speed up the process.
The third way you can solve motion is program your camera’s shutter speed to one of it’s highest setting. Five hundredth of a second will stop most normal action.
Enough on motion. If shooting indoors, set the camera on A, or Automatic and use the flash.
If shooting out of doors, in bright light, at stationary subjects, change the ISO back to its lowest setting, perhaps 100. This will result in better pictures.
Turn to the menu setting, usually described as image size. If you choose the high, or fine from the options, your photos will contain the most information, but will occupy the most memory on your camera’s memory card. With the gigs available on today’s memory cards, this is not a problem. But remember, the highest quality image is one with the most pixels.
Next, we attack depth-of-field. Many photographers avoid discussing DOF, believing it too complicated. It is, and it isn’t. To keep things simple, remember the law of optics: The longer the lens, the more critical the DOF. If using a wide angle lens, forget it. If using a lens length of 100 or more, you better have a smaller f/stop.
We’re not going to say much about the fourth element of photography: Exposure. Most modern cameras have such good metering, that under normal situations, they do wonders. Remember, your camera’s meter reads everything as medium tone gray. That’s half way between white and black. The bark of a conifer, dry grass, a brown backpack, you get the idea.
If, however, your subject is not medium tone gray, point your camera at some nearby subject that is, lock the exposure, recompose and shoot.
If the background is bright, white sky, or snow, and your subject is standing in front of the above, your camera’s meter will be fooled. Point at something that’s medium tone gray, lock the exposure, then shoot.
I hope this helps. We have 125,000 photos in our stock library, from several continents, so I’ve learned the hard way: Before I raise my camera to my eye, I ask myself the following questions: Is there a motion problem? A depth-of-field problem? An exposure problem?
If you’re going to the ball game, or to a bullfight you can expect fast motion. Preset your camera’s shutter speed to 1/500 sec. or more.
A camera is only a dumb device. It’s the photographer who produces GOOD photos.